As we go through this life, things happen to us and around us. Often there is a call to accountability. Sometimes that call is obvious and loud, for example when the boss is really mad. Other times the call is quiet.
Those of us with any moral conviction at all tend to offer an answer when one of those calls for accountability arises. However, if you are like me, you can be guilty of occasionally offering excuses rather than true, accountable explanations. To be an effective and respected leader, you must fight the temptation to give excuses.
[shareable cite=”John Wooden”]“Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.”[/shareable] I want to take a look at what I am going to call “convenient excuses”. We all have them; those famous ‘dog ate my homework’ kind of go-to excuses. When, where, and how we loaded up on those ideas is anyone’s guess. Making excuses is really a kind of rationalization technique.
[callout]“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” ― Benjamin Franklin[/callout]
Here’s how it works. If our reality doesn’t match an expectation, let’s reason away the disconnect, and make a statement about a new truth. That sounds pretty foolish, doesn’t it? Yet, on more frequent occasions than I choose to admit, I find myself entertaining some excuse.
Fortunately, while my human nature is crafting a convenient excuse, I usually let my hard earned wisdom overrule. Then I fess up to whatever truth is real and go deal with it.
Here’s What You Can Do
In order to work away from making lame excuses, there are 5 things we can do:
- Clear the Cache – We do this on our web browsers and computers. We need to occasionally clear the cache in our mind about those go-to excuses. Consciously erase the frequently used excuses that exist in your world.
Avoid Generalization – Tagging an event with a generalized answer is a very convenient excuse. Words like “this always happens” serves to minimize the effect of the moment, yet you should be asking “does it really always happen?”
Own It – If the event or circumstance that just happened needs an explanation and you are central to the matter, own it. Deal with the consequences. Be the proud owner of it and do not try to deflect. As a manager, taking ownership can quickly diffuse the situation and turn it into s simple problem solving exercise.
Think Clearly – Fully grasp the details of the event or thing and process your thoughts. Go through whatever system you have for evaluating a situation. Allow that process to run its course before declaring one way or the other.
Avoid Blame – The blame game is the oldest of convenient excuses. Finding someone to blame seldom resolves the situation. While there are certainly situations where you must know the parties involved, going straight to blame is not going to resolve the matter very quickly. In fact, placing blame often shuts down any effort to collaborate with the other involved parties.
If you want to dig deeper into this, here are some interesting (and fun) links I found.
[reminder]What are the ways you avoid using excuses?[/reminder]